This principle or ‘presupposition’ of NLP can also be stated as ‘there is a positive intention behind every behaviour’ or ‘behaviour is purposeful, given the individual’s perception of the world’. So even if we don’t like the results of some behaviour that we or someone else is doing, the behaviour is the choice that makes most sense to that other person, or that part of us, given their perception of the world.
As always, I suggest that you read the longer description of this principle to get some background before going on to try out the practical suggestions.
Some ways to make this principle work for you:
- If there’s something you did in the past that you regret – what would you do differently if that happened next time? What positive lessons have you learned from it?If there is any emotional pain, or guilt, still attached to the memory, that means there is still something to be learned, so, when the time is right, ask yourself “Now what do I need to learn from that event in order to let go of that emotion and move beyond it?” Shine the light of your attention onto what you would do differently now. Take your mental image of the positive lessons you’ve learned and the ways in which you would behave differently and make it big, bright and clear. Now any time you remember that event, you can also see the valuable lessons you’ve learned and how you will act differently.
- If you’ve been doing some habit that you want to change, like smoking or overeating, or if you have something like a critical inner voice, or if you have any sort of problem that hasn’t been easy to solve – and you may find this even works for health problems in some cases – suppose for a moment that there’s a positive intention behind it.Of course, the results may not be positive for you, but just for a moment suppose that there is a positive intention behind the problem, or that there’s a payoff or benefit in some sense that the problem or habit is trying to give you.
So what is that problem or habit trying to do for you, as well as it currently knows how? Take a moment to think about it. How else could you get that benefit, once you let go of that habit or problem? Maybe you can think of three or four possible ways to get a similar benefit – or better – without the negative effects of the problem or habit.
- And this will be a big one for some of you – “all behaviour is the best choice currently available” applies to other people as well. So when other people do things you don’t like, even the worst things, they are doing it because it seems to them, with their map of the world, like the best choice available.
Getting angry about what other people do, if the anger doesn’t spur you to take action to resolve the conflict or get them to change what they’re doing, only affects you. Especially if the reason you’re getting angry is because they ‘should’ be doing something else, according to your map and your values.
So if there’s someone out there who you really dislike – it could be a neighbour, or a public figure, or a close family member – try this exercise:
- Think of that person – see them in your mind’s eye. Notice how you feel, without getting sucked into the feeling. Observe the feeling from a distance, knowing that it will pass like every other thought and feeling.
- Briefly put yourself in that person’s shoes, having had their upbringing, seeing the world as they see it.
- Now come back to yourself and look at that person again, and say to yourself: “Just like me, they are doing the best they can.” Notice any changes in how you feel. And bring everything that you’ve learned back with you as you come back to normal awareness.
Why not let us know how you get on with these exercises by leaving a comment?
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